High Court upholds ban on woman keeping pets

RICHARD BATSON An “animal lover” who was involved in keeping a menagerie of more than 300 pets in “chaotic” conditions, has lost her fight to keep six pet dogs.Elizabeth King took her battle to the High Court in London today but top judges dismissed her appeal, saying the court which sentenced her had a duty to protect animals.

RICHARD BATSON

An “animal lover” who was involved in keeping a menagerie of more than 300 pets in “chaotic” conditions, has lost her

fight to keep six pet dogs.

Elizabeth King took her battle to the High Court in London today but top judges dismissed her appeal, saying the court which sentenced her had a duty to protect animals.

The case centred on a farm at Trimingham in north Norfolk, where 352 animals, including dogs, cats, guinea pigs and rabbits were found in conditions which an RSPCA inspector said were some of the worst he had ever seen. Dogs had rotten teeth, kittens had ulcerated eyes, some animals were sleeping in their own excreta, and there was “chaos” Cromer magistrates heard last year when King, 55, appeared with Beryl Barker, then aged 72.

Prosecutors said it was the number of animals which caused the problem and accepted there was no any “wanton, deliberate or malicious cruelty”. The court also heard the two women would go without food themselves to care for the animals.

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Barker was given a three-year conditional discharge and banned from keeping animals for life.

King, who is now landlady of the Black Boys pub at Aldborough, was sentenced to 160 hours community service, but today failed to get her 15-year ban overturned.

The High Court heard that King had originally only admitted neglect charges after agreeing a deal that she would be allowed to keep six dogs. But it was switched to a total ban after a review of the case, following concerns Cromer magistrates had no power to say how many animals could be kept as an exception.

Today she tried to get it overturned at the High Court, with her barrister Anne-Marie Gregory claiming it had "not been in the interests of justice" to revise the ban and it was "unreasonable and perverse" to bar her from keeping any animal.

The appeal was dismissed and Lord Justice Latham who said the magistrates had not been unreasonable and had a "duty to protect the public and indeed animals”.

The decision means King will be banned from keeping any pet until she is in her seventies.

Miss Gregory, who at the original hearing said the animals were like children to King, who knew all their names and ages, questioned the logic of the ban saying: "I fail to see how someone can be unfit to keep dogs now, but will be when she is in her seventies."

Outside court after the hearing, the barrister added: "She is an animal lover who used to run a pet shop in Cromer and got overrun with animals of all kinds. She got out of her depth."

RSPCA spokeswoman Sophie Wilkinson said they were delighted the ban had been upheld, adding: “although the defence said there was no cruelty it is still unacceptable to keep animals in those conditions and without veterinary treatment.”

King had previous convictions for cruelty, and had ignored RSPCA advice given during earlier visits. The charity would be calling on her again and would provide help re-homing the six dogs if necessary.